If the summer heat took the steam out of your fitness regimen, the forecast is positive: cooler weather is great for putting some pep in your step. What a perfect time to get on track and put exercise back on your daily calendar! Exercise has so many important benefits for seniors—you don’t want to miss out.
Don’t let these common myths stop you
Myth: “It can’t help me at my age.” Older adults can obtain significant health benefits with a moderate amount of physical activity, preferably daily. Chair-bound individuals can lift light weights, stretch, or do chair aerobics. Age does not matter.
Myth: “I’d have to work out too hard.” Physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits. Regular exercise can lower your risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, just for starters.
Myth: “I’ll hurt myself.” Start slow and pace yourself. Consult with your physician before you begin a new fitness program. And consider starting your new adventure with others, such as in a fitness class in a senior living community like Clearwater Living.
Myth: “I’m too weak.” It’s easy to think that you’re not as strong because you are getting older. But according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), loss of strength and stamina attributed to aging is in part caused by reduced physical activity.
7 Exercise Benefits for Seniors:
Increases muscle mass
The amount and size of muscle fibers, particularly those that affect strength, decreases with age. Muscle mass can increase in the older person after regularly exercising for a relatively short period of time combining aerobic workouts and strength training. These exercises improve the muscles’ ability to draw oxygen from the circulating blood, also reducing the need for the heart to work harder to pump more blood to the muscles.
Reduces risk of bone loss
Exercise may help to reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise in particular helps keep bones healthy and strong by stimulating extra deposits of calcium and “waking up” bone-forming cells. By exercising, you are increasing your ability to live independently by reducing your risk of falling and fracturing bones.
Improves cardiovascular fitness
Exercise can slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure. While cardiorespiratory fitness takes longer to achieve in an older person than a young person, the physical benefits are similar. Regardless of age, people can improve their cardiorespiratory fitness through regular exercise.
Exercise, particularly weight-bearing activities, helps build bone mass and improve balance. In addition, working on core muscles, lower back and legs help improve overall balance, so you are less likely to fall.
Soothes achy joints
Regular exercise helps control joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis by reducing inflammation. Muscles around the joints will be stronger, and blood flow will be increased, which helps reduce pain. The key is to start slowly, always warm up, vary your workouts, and be gentle with yourself.
Reduces body fat
Staying active is also a great way to shed excess body fat at any age. Regular exercise burns fat, increases muscle mass, and speeds the metabolism. Together, these physiological changes help an older person maintain an appropriate weight. Walking, water aerobics, strength training, and classes like Zumba and chair-fitness are good choices.
Increases brain volume
Some physical activity is better than none, and even light activity can help reduce degeneration in the brain. In a recent study, researchers investigated how frequently and how intensely older adults should exercise to maintain a healthy brain. Compared to no physical activity, engaging in low, middle, or high amounts of any type of physical activity was associated with greater total brain volume. The difference in brain volumes for the most physically active compared to non-active older adults was the equivalent of about four years of aging. That’s something to think about!
Senior living communities are geared to get you moving
Whether you’re just beginning to exercise, or you’re ramping up after a too-hot summer, living in a senior community like Clearwater Living makes it easier—and more fun! You have access to senior-friendly equipment and resources and a trained staff eager to help you find the pace that works for you. Residents in all levels—independent living, assisted living and memory support—can find a class or activity that fits. So don’t wait—get moving!
Invigorating the everyday: at Clearwater Living, you can exercise all your options! At Clearwater Living, we are reimagining senior living to create an innovative approach to aging in comfort. Call the community nearest you today!